The Run-Pass Option: A Mid-Line Sweep Read w/Bubble Threat

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Analysis, Fish Reports

As a fellow fan, it’s tough to lose a game – especially the way the Nebraska game transpired. Nonetheless, we wish to continue to build the “Oregon Playbook” within and continue to learn from the evolution of the Oregon Spread Offense. There are ongoing permutations off of fundamental plays such as the Sweep Read, which we wish to identify and understand in order to enjoy the game of college football that much more, whether the Ducks win or lose.

Now, don’t freak-out; there appears to be a ton of screenshots and videos, but you will find it is easy reading and you will quickly move through them – and it is fascinating stuff!

It's a RPO!

It’s an RPO!

Dakota Prukop established from the first game that he can run the Zone Read play well and is a serious threat to any defense. Above is an example of the type of play that set his reputation with the Nebraska defense, and it is quite interesting as Oregon is attacking the Cornhuskers in a multi-faceted way. You see how at the top of the screen you have the beginnings of a Sweep Read play, and at the bottom of the screen is the formulation of the Bubble Screen!

The Ducks are attacking in two ways and whether you are Coaching Consultant Donnie Mays of Charleston, West Virginia, or Tony Hoolulu of Kailua, Hawaii (Oahu) the term coaches universally give a play like this is the Run-Pass Option, or “RPO” play. You most commonly see Oregon use an RPO with the Inside Zone Read or Outside Zone Read, and here you see it with the Sweep Read play.

What makes this Sweep Read play more interesting is how Oregon combines the Mid-Level Zone Read in conjunction with the Sweep Read; note the defensive player (red arrow above) who is not blocked and being read in the middle of the field! Holy Crap.

This is NOT going as Nebraska thought...

This is NOT going as Nebraska thought …

At the moment of the mesh, we see the unblocked defensive tackle (blue circle above) on Oregon’s left side charging both No. 5 Taj Griffin and Prukop. What is really wild is how the middle linebacker (red letters above) has hardly moved and is leaning toward chasing down the Sweep Read to his left. The two Nebraska defenders are almost lined up even in the middle of the field.

The left guard for Oregon, Shane Lemieux No. 68 (green dotted arrow above), has left the read player – the defensive tackle – by design and is moving to block the outside linebacker. The yellow arrow above shows Brady Aiello handling the defensive end just fine.

Prukop is enjoying this!

Prukop is enjoying this!

Dakota (above) has pulled the ball as the defensive tackle for Nebraska (No. 55) charged the Ducks running back. Aiello has created a lane by shielding his defender, while Shane (yellow dotted line above) is licking his chops anticipating his hit on little No. 5 in red. The Cornhusker MLB is badly out of position and attempting to redirect in pursuit of Prukop.

What a sweet play that certainly is representative of the ways Prukop gashed Nebraska for yardage on the ground.

The RPO is flip-flopped!

The RPO is flip-flopped!

Above, the touchdown just before halftime was a masterpiece set up by the running threat of Prukop. We see above that the RPO play was flip-flopped, so that the Sweep Read was below the Bubble Threat. Everything else is done the same – including the Mid-Line Zone Read of the defensive tackle!

This is fun to watch materialize...

This is fun to watch materialize …

To the right of the green arrow above is the Nebraska defender sitting to cut off the lane for Prukop to run, hence, he hands off to Griffin. The black arrow at the top is No. 54 Calvin Throckmorton handling his block nicely, while the yellow dotted line shows No. 78 Cam Hunt headed for a party with the OLB. The green arrow shows Lemieux handling his block, and the yellow solid arrow is indicating Aiello doing the same.

The green dotted line above is No. 55 Jake Hanson on the prowl looking for the MLB to hit!

The die is cast...

The die is cast …

Good gosh, Hanson is laying the ‘wood to the Husker middle linebacker (green arrow above) as Pharaoh Brown (No. 85 above) might be getting away with a little hold on the play. Geez, the lane is wide for Griffin to turn his jets on!

Such a play as above is just a wonderful thing to witness, as all players must perform their part perfectly to execute so effectively. It also helps to have a burner like Griffin running it, as the extra bit of speed creates the second-level separation that springs the long touchdown.

These young-guns can run-block!

These young-guns can run-block!

Let’s look at the same play from behind to see it develop better. What we see above is four redshirt freshmen doing a fantastic job run blocking against the “Blackshirt” defense of Nebraska. Again, Oregon is not blocking the defensive tackle in the “3-technique” position above (lined up on the outside shoulder of No. 78 Hunt).

It all begins with big fellows up front...

It all begins with big fellows up front …

As the play begins (above), we see the center, Hanson (No. 55), pull and the others begin their blocks.

That MLB does not know what to do!

That MLB does not know what to do!

This is so wild; above you see that Dakota is effectively taking two defenders with him as the middle linebacker has not moved and has his eyes peeling on Prukop after all the QB keepers. The Nebraska defensive tackle is charging again, and this time he has his bead on the quarterback. Zone reading two players at the same time; cool!

No such failure to launch here...

No such failure to launch here …

Boy you wish all running lanes were this wide! We see Hanson taking aim at the MLB (yellow dotted line above), and Taj is off to the races behind him!

What a sight to behold! This angle makes you admire the job done by the very young offensive line that much more. Such run blocking definitely bodes well for the prospect of an explosive offense for years to come in Eugene.

A running quarterback makes all the plays in the Oregon offense flow better, and there is no better example than what we have seen in this analysis. Only the threat of Prukop helps to make the Sweep Read so effective, and adding the Mid-Line Zone Read allows more hats to get to the second level and the perimeter, opening up the play to an even greater extent!

That’s it for this week, fans of I look forward with great anticipation to bringing you more in-depth analyses in the coming weeks from the world of the Spread Offense.

“Oh how we love to learn about our beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer  (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst for
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo from Video

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